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Friday, April 23, 2010

Being a Professional Writer

Don’t let anyone kid you: writing is hard work.

But even harder than the writing itself is keeping your focus, so you can actually get the writing done. I can’t count the times someone has said to me, “I don’t have enough time to write.” The thing is, if you’re a writer—you write.

But that doesn’t mean it is easy to find the time and the focus to maintain a steady writing schedule. Here are some of the things that get in the way of my writing every day, just as an example:

The Day Job (running an artists’ cooperative shop)
Making Jewelry (the day job part deux)
Other Misc. Professional Work (giving tarot readings, energy healing session, even occasionally officiating at a wedding)
Editing & Promoting Already Finished Books – Working on proof edits, consulting on covers, getting blurbs, doing promotion for each new book, and continuing to do things that keep existing books in front of readers.
Blogging
Maintaining An Online Social & Professional Presence (Twitter/Facebook/MySpace) – this one can be a particularly treacherous time-suck…but if you think it is optional, ask any publisher. Mine insisted this was part of the Author duties (and I don’t disagree).
Keeping Up With Other Authors (Networking) – this means checking in on blogs, being supportive by doing things to promote author friends online, emails, etc.
Emails in General – I get as many as 100+ emails a day, about half of which require some kind of response, no matter how brief.
Reading and Editing Work for Critique Partners – my CP’s are amazingly helpful with my writing, but that means I have to be willing to set aside time to help them when they need it.
Misc. Other Writing Tasks – writing articles, giving workshops, maintaining the new loop, doing guest reviews and blogs, etc. – all stuff that helps to keep my name out there…but eats time.
Real Life – You know: cleaning, laundry, shopping, cooking, eating, taking care of the cats, planting a garden, fixing the house, yardwork…all that groovy stuff we all have to do every day.
Social Life – Okay, I don’t have much of one. But I do gather with my Circle twice a month; occasionally get together with friends for dinner, a movie, or a game of scrabble.

As you can see, that’s a pretty long list. And it doesn’t include the unusual events, like a week-long trip to a convention, which only happens once or twice a year. Now. As my career grows, this will become more prevalent.

Most authors have some variation of this list. Many of them have day jobs that take more time than mine. Most have husbands and kids that demand attention. And yet, they still get the writing done.

How? You might ask.

BICHOK.

Candace Havens introduced me to these 6 important letters, but you can see writers all over the interweb talking about them. BICHOK stands for Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard.

The only way to be a professional author is to treat it like a job. That means you show up to work every day, put your butt in your chair (or on your couch) and you WRITE. No excuses. No whining.

I probably write, on average, six days a week, for 2-4 hours every day. It doesn’t sound like much. But by doing that, I get most books written in three months, and edited in another. In theory, this means I could produce three books a year. In reality, I usually write two, since other writing tasks end up taking up so much time.

But the point is—I write. I’m a writer; that’s what I do. No excuse. Just BICHOK.

4 comments:

  1. Hey Deborah,

    I'm working on a schedule that fits me. Setting a goal for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week just may be doable, rather than sitting in a chair fretting all day about what I should be doing.
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  2. Julie--
    I am a big fan of breaking things down into reasonable, attainable goals.
    If I looked at everything I needed to accomplish all at once, I'd probably never get up off the couch :-)
    So I make lists, and set goals I think I can really manage.
    Usually when I sit down to do the day's writing, I aim at a word count. For instance, I'm at 45,739 right now. I'll aim at hitting 47k by the time the day is over.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Deborah:
    I'm still at the Greenbo State Park. I've managed to get on line here.
    You left out doing presentations at writers conferences. LOL

    And networking is the hardest part of the work.It eats into your time and makes it difficult to accomplish everything you'd like to.
    I'd give anything if someone could teach us all how to streamline that part of being published.
    Teresa R.

    ReplyDelete
  4. http://uranianfictionmiriampia.blogspot.com/

    Check this out. The cross over is that I have some occult experience and am also a writer of both fiction and nonfiction.

    The blog is currently highlighting a romance amongst interstellar mercenaries.

    ReplyDelete

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